Photographer Cristina Coral has an eye for subtle alterations that transform seemingly ordinary scenes into surreal images brimming with illusion. Often centered on a solitary woman, the conceptual photographs rely on texture, pattern, and the figures’ contorted poses. A limp hand protrudes from a bush, strawberry locks drape over a brocade couch, and a teacup precariously balances on a pair of feet.
Coral, who is based in Italy but frequently travels to Germany and Slovenia, currently is working on a project based on memory and what’s forgotten. The mixed-media works, some of which she’s shared on Instagram, fuse photographs and textiles in a way that allows portions of the original image to peek through.
If you’re in Paris, Coral’s deftly composed works will be included in a group exhibition at the Decorative Arts Museum this summer. Until then, take a virtual tour of the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition, which includes a few of Coral’s pieces, and explore hundreds of her photographs on her site.
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Conceptual Photographs by Can Dagarslani and Sophie Bogdan Fall at the Intersection of Joy and Absurdity
A Berlin-based creative duo, photographer Can Dagarslani and model Sophie Bogdan consider the curvature and adaptability of the human body in a series of quirky, spirited photographs. Generally shot outdoors with only natural light, each image employs heavily composed elements of color, space, perspective, and texture, whether captured through a trail of black balloons, a playful shadow figure, or a rigid Bogdan resting on a mossy terrain. The conceptual photographs explore the intersections of social dynamics, relationships, identity, and love.
In a note to Colossal, Dagarslani says his background in architecture influences how he frames the spatial aspects of his works, often considering symmetry, perspective, and the subject’s posture and placement. The photographer derives inspiration for his vivid colors and textural elements from more subtle sources, like attention to the mundane objects and moments of his daily life.
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Often blurring or concealing the faces of her dramatically posed figures, Kylli Sparre (previously) captures magical portraits of young women and girls. The fine art photographer, who is based in Tallinn, captures her lone subjects amidst swirling swaths of fabric or perched atop a towering mass of bicycle wheels. Many are in motion, whether dancing against hazy landscapes and or scooting across calm waters.
Sparre tells Colossal that she’s begun to experiment with technical aspects of her process by using a scanner, piecing together images in collages, and experimenting with movement and exposure time. Although she notes that many of her forays into underwater photography “will never see the light of day,” she’s “trying to be as open as I can… I think what has demanded me to grow, is the wish to keep finding the “something” in an image, that would touch a chord in me. Because what I find interesting, slightly changes over time. It is not always an easy task to be truthful to this inner scale, but still essential.”
To see more of Sparre’s conceptual projects focused on the female figure, head to Instagram.
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South African artist Chris Soal combines concrete and other industrial materials with found objects such as toothpicks and bottle caps to create conceptual sculptures. Often set in contrasting textural elements, thousands of single-use objects take on a new identity and aesthetic as part of a collective. The works are a commentary on the destructive relationship humans have with nature while also reflecting notions of value and perception.
Birch wood toothpicks are held in place using polyurethane sealants on ripstop fabric and board. The toothpicks, some raw and others burnt, fill spaces in concrete slabs and appear to form soft dripping patterns as they snake down to the floor. The artist tells Colossal that his use of these “mundane everyday objects” began after he snapped a photo of some in a jar while having dinner. After initially dismissing the toothpicks as “stupid and worthless,” experimenting with them a couple years later changed how Soal perceived the material. “I was immediately amazed by how they transcend their appearance as hard and sharp objects to appearing soft and luscious when arranged in mass,” he says. “I then began to question the fact that I dismissed them upon first encounter, and the work led me to interrogate notions of value and perceptions through the works.”
Soal says that growing up in Johannesburg has had an impact on his work. “It is a city in tension, and I think my work is often about locating oneself within that space, both as a response and a critique.” He doesn’t, however, see himself as the only force that determines how the three-dimensional sculptures are realized. “I am merely a facilitator of possibility for the works,” he explains. “I created the conditions for existence, and the material then morphs and develops as gravity and other forces move it to. As laborious, time-consuming pieces the process is also very contemplative and meditative, very much about a connection between my body and the object and how the shaping of form is related to touch.”
Alongside artist Michele Mathison, Chris Soal will be showing a new body of work at the Artissima art fair in Italy with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery from October 31 through November 3, 2019. He is also preparing for a large project in Brussels in the near future. For a closer look at Soal’s sculptures, follow the artist on Instagram. (thx, Anna!)
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Boston-based conceptual artist Nathalie Miebach (previously) weaves colorful, complex sculptures using rope, wood, paper, fibers, and data from weather events. Two of the artist’s recent series explore the impact of storm waters on our lives and on marine ecosystems, with variables like wind and temperature (and the harmony of the composition) often informing the rainbow of colors used to translate the data into a three-dimensional structure.
The “Changing Waters” series uses data from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS) buoys as well as from coastal weather stations to show relationships between weather patterns and changes in marine life. Similarly, the artist uses meteorological data from recent storms including Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Katrina to inform her “Floods” series, which looks at the events both from scientific and human experience narratives. Cut and woven elements are connected to form geometric shapes and patterns that are as layered and in flux as our understanding of the storms themselves.
Miebach tells Colossal that her exploration of the intersection of science and art began while taking continuing education astronomy courses at Harvard University and basket weaving courses at a nearby school. As a tactile learner, she found it easier to understand the abstract concepts and ideas of the former by using the latter. “I was lucky to have a very open-minded professor who accepted it without any questions. I’m not sure if it hadn’t been for his openness to this somewhat unconventional way of learning astronomy, if I would have continued.”
See Miebach’s work in two solo shows opening this fall, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Texas and the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Her work will also be exhibited as a part of group shows at Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at Florida Institute of Technology, at New Media Gallery in Vancouver, and at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. Follow the artist on Instagram to see more of her sculptural work and for more details on upcoming exhibitions.
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Self-taught Italian illustrator Andrea Ucini draws scenes which reveal hidden plot lines, adding a conceptual twist to his minimalistic imagery. Within Ucini’s illustrations one can sneak a peek behind the veil of a shadow or streetlamp, uncovering another world or just a curious rodent. In addition to working as an illustrator, Ucini also composes music and plays several instruments, a pastime that he sites as a strong influence for his illustrations which have been included in Wired, Scientific America, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. You can view more of the Denmark-based illustrator’s work on his Instagram, Behance, and Anna Goodson Illustration Agency where he is currently represented.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.